The Biblical Basis for a Just War -- By: Mike Stallard

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 06:1 (Spring 2002)
Article: The Biblical Basis for a Just War
Author: Mike Stallard

The Biblical Basis for a Just War

Mike Stallard

Professor of Systematic Theology
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

“The Congress shall have the Power To … declare War.” (U. S. Constitution, art. I, sec, 8)

“War is a terrible trade; but in the cause that is righteous, sweet is the smell of power.” (Miles Standish)1

“It is well that war is so terrible—we should grow too fond of it.” (Robert E. Lee, Battle of Fredericksburg)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Jesus)


The events of September 11, 2001, have produced many behavioral changes on the part of Americans and others in the world.2 It has also profoundly affected our thinking. The terrorist attacks have shaken the complacent stability of a theologically and rationally inept postmodernism whose very existence is owed partly to the mantra of relativistic toleration. But what does one do when three thousand souls in one’s country are innocently and brutally murdered and when the prospect for similar events in the future is ever before us? Intuitively, most Americans believe that there are limits to what one can tolerate. Furthermore, it would be proper to say that they “feel” that right is on their side.

Nonetheless, the thinking Christian must approach such issues, not with emotional reactions, as meaningful and righteous as they might be in their proper place, but with the wisdom of the Word of

God. The Christian’s responsibility is magnified in the current political climate when so much is being said on the issues of war and peace in the media, much of it incoherent and inconsistent. For example, I performed an AOL search on the web on the name Osama bin Laden and came up with over 31,000 hits. I was slightly less successful with only 29,000 hits on the word pacifism. However, I was also astounded when the term just war yielded over 16,000 hits and when I found over five million web references to the word peace. Now many of these are, of course, false hits that must be discarded. However, one is hard pressed to downplay the significance of the volume of web traffic in these areas. In addition, printed resources were also abundantly available. In fact, it was quite obvious in my library searching that books and articles about the legitimacy of war in general seem to proliferate more during times of warfare such as the U. S. involvement in Vietnam (1960s and 70s), the Gulf War against Ira...

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